Data Platonism

I’ve been working through Katerine Hayles’s book, “How We Became Posthuman.” It looks like she’s going to get to Plato in a few pages, but after a first fly-by of that account, I want to put this in my own words.


I think what she’s describing (and critiquing) is a kind of Informational or “Data Platonism” where data takes the place of the Platonic Ideas or Forms. The fantasy is that data is a Form that remains the same (repetition without difference), unmodified by its various “instantiations.”


As I continue I want to keep bringing Deleuze (and Manuel DeLanda’s) tools to bear on this question. Hayles is raising different questions than they do, and ones that are more situated toward my current interest in anime and video games. So Hayles has defined the most helpful questions and laid out what’s wrong with lots of current wisdom, especially as it surfaces in anime. But Deleuze and DeLanda have tools that are more helpful for me to think of alternative, better accounts. After all, Deleuze described his whole project as to “reverse Platonism.” So it’s not surprising that his account of how Platonism happens and how to combat it looks more nuanced and resonant than what I’ve seen (so far) of Hayles’s description.


I’m also going to add something from a Facebook post that links to this entry: I’ve come to think of blogging as a kind of “off-brain memory.” One of the nice things about that is that if my ideas are distributed beyond my personal boundaries, then it’s easier to present them as works in process, because they’re not entirely “mine.” I’m less likely to take them as metonyms for myself that have to be defended or promoted as self-contained products that I “own.”

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